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How To Be Small: 18 ways to blend in with the crowd

Building a muscular, athletic body and living a big, fulfilling life takes work. But what about building a mediocre body and an average life? Well, that’s much easier. Research and good ol’ fashioned life experience offers some tried-and-true rules to follow.

Blending in with the crowd is easy.

First, allow me to define “skinny-fat” just in case you don’t know what that means. Here’s what I wrote a few years back:

“Some guys can have narrow shoulders, a sunken chest, and pipe-cleaner arms…and still carry excess flab around the middle.”

So, yeah, that’s skinny-fat. I’ve definitely been there. And so have hundreds of our clients before they made their transformation.

All right. Let’s get to it.


Sleep for 6 hours or less. Every day is easier to handle when you get to stumble through it instead of actively engage in it. Also, “I didn’t get enough sleep last night” is a perfectly acceptable excuse for everything. Use it freely and be relieved that you just shirked responsibility.

Jump from one workout program to another. Sure, you won’t gain more than a couple of pounds of muscle by changing programs as often as you change your underwear. But who has time to stick to a progressive training program, anyway? Much better to be entertained and have the illusion of progress than actually accomplishing anything.

Stay in your comfort zone at all times. Don’t take chances or challenge yourself in any way. Remember: anything can happen once you get outside your little bubble, and some of it is scary. Which is why it’s much safer to stay inside, where it’s warm and cozy.

Lift weights exclusively. Intervals are tough and should be avoided at all costs.

Check your email, texts, and Facebook first thing in the morning. This will get you automatically caught up on all the super-important, life-changing, absolutely-can’t-wait stuff you missed when you were sleeping. Bonus: All those messages will occupy your thoughts for much of the morning, which is perfect if you weren’t planning on actually accomplishing something today.

Don’t eat vegetables. Who cares if they have fiber and vitamins? They’re yucky.

Let other people determine your values. Thinking about what’s important to you is hard work. It’s way easier to let other people decide how you should act in any given situation.

Skip your workout. You’ll do it tomorrow, right?

Consume as much information as you can. Is there something you really want to do, something that may even change your life? Here’s what to do: Spend hours online skimming articles; read every relevant book you can find; watch all the videos multiple times; listen to every interview. And once you’ve compiled it and absorbed it all…well, then, it’s time to look for more.

Warning: Be careful that you don’t actually take action on anything you learned. That would lead to a scary thing called outcome-based decision making in which you’d actually have to do stuff and see what works.

Stress the fuck out. We all know things get immediately solved once you agonize over them in great detail.

Don’t measure or track any of your muscle-building progress. Don’t take photos, girth measurements, or body fat percentage. Leave everything up to chance.

Party a few times per week. Life is short! Might as well live it to the fullest by taking shots of bottom-shelf tequila every other day and spending the next morning feeling like shit. YOLO!

Hang out with toxic people. She’s funny, right? He’s cool most of the time, right? Who cares if they only talk about themselves or complain all the time? Who cares if they have a negative outlook on the world? They’re victims and martyrs and they have a right to feel that way. As their friend, it’s your duty to listen to all of it, absorb it, and make it your reality, too. After all, that’s what friends are for. Right?

Don’t read. Reading books is for nerds.

Rely solely on supplements. Who needs actual food when you have powders and pills?

Multi-task. Instead of focusing all of your attention on one thing, put a little bit of attention on a lot of things. Get easily distracted and overwhelmed. Don’t finish what you started.

Work a job that’s uninspiring. Spend the majority of your day in a bad mood. Waste time. Live for the weekend. Collect your paycheck and think of all the cool stuff you’d do if you didn’t have a job you hated.

Try to do everything on your own. 

Add to the List, Win Cool Stuff

Yeah, it may seem like a cynical list, but it’s really a reminder for myself and the guys who are trying to do something awesome with their lives.

So what “rule” would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll randomly pick 2 guys and send them one of my favorite books, Esquire: The Meaning of Life.

NOTE: Congrats to Kevin Haggerty and Tim G. Both were randomly picked to win the copy of the book. Guys, check your email. And thanks to everyone for commenting. I encourage you all to read through all the comments as there is tons of great advice in there.

74 Responses to How To Be Small

  1. William p. says:

    Great list Nate
    The big one for me is justifying just this once.

  2. Daniel Wallen says:

    Don’t set a specific, measurable, timely goal. This is scary and requires commitment and action. If you actually attach a specific date of completion; specific target of fat lost or muscle gained; or a specific means of achieving this goal–you might actually do something. It’s much better to just say “eh, I’m gonna lose weight,” as this requires much less thought, and you won’t be inconvenienced with a desire to actually do something.

  3. santi says:

    Thanks Nate, good job, i will try to sleep mre from now on……

  4. Shane says:

    Don’t take responsibility. Being a victim and blaming circumstance/luck/others is a surefire way to always have an excuse and rationalization ready to whip out for anyone (including yourself).

    (I write this after having woken up and checked my email – oops. Going to give that one a try!)

  5. Dean R. says:

    Your 45, not 25. You shouldn’t be challenging yourself. Accept Average.

  6. Brian says:

    Avoid gratitude. Feeling thankful can lead to an appreciation of all the possibilities you are given every day. It can even help you to be aware of and appreciate other people. It’s much easier to complain and cultivate resentment: that is key to maintaining the status quo.

  7. John Berardi says:

    *Stop paying attention.*
    Don’t pay attention to your feelings, your children, your partner, your work, your food, your fitness, or any other aspect of your life. If you do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. After all, paying attention can show you where you can be more, contribute more, and make better choices. And then you’d have to do stuff. So, be more like an ostrich than a man. Stick your head in the sand, my friend.

  8. Amazing how you think you are doing good, but when you sit back and take a look, you see how many things you could improve. Thanks Nate!

  9. Thiago says:

    Don`t take reponsability. Blame it on someone else, it`s probably not your fault and you couldn`t have done anything to avoid it.

  10. Kevin Haggerty says:

    Don’t Go Outside: The world is a big place with lots and lots of stuff to see. Better to remain indoors, under the steady glow of the fluorescent lights of your office keeping your attitude as dry and crispy as three hour old chicken tenders sitting under the heat lamp at a warming station. Be careful when travelling to and from work. Seeing others being active can be enticing. Throw up those blinders and don’t let temptation overcome your determination to do nothing.

  11. Reid says:

    Measure your success against others rather than what you could accomplish. It’s easier to justify your actions when you say, “At least I’m not as bad as that guy.” Settle for complacency when in the midst of adversity.

  12. Tim G. says:

    Compare yourself to everyone else—not yourself. Because, you know, that’s productive. Instead of trying to improve every day, keep reminding yourself how far ahead someone else is. See how far you get.

  13. Expect Instant results – never commit long term to anything- it should happen overnight right?
    Tell everyone on facebook about the fact you’re going to the gym- in fact- why not take your phone with you while you workout so you can check it- I mean who needs focus…..

  14. Brad Wagner says:

    Try to be like somebody else
    “Do what they do, eat what they do, dress how they do, value what they do, live how they do. They seem happy they way they are. I will be the same as them. Then I will be happy. Forget being an individual. You are one of the many”

  15. Annie-Claude says:

    Think too much either about your past self or about the future you. Regret what you have done, think about what you should have done and don’t ever be satisfied with what the present has to offer.

  16. Jesse Rude says:

    Oops, I’m reading this first thing in the morning as I check my email. Hmm, YOLO.

    *Scale weight is the only thing that matters.*
    Wow! I ate fast food 3 times this week, but the scale says I gained 4 lbs. I guess that workout I did last week (you know, the one with 10 flavors of curls) is finally starting to have some effect!
    Or even better, I lost weight for some reason this week! I guess I must be shredding down to show some definition… yeah. If only I knew whether or not my strength changed too.

  17. Matt Bona says:

    *Don’t Keep a To-Do List and Don’t Plan Anything*
    It’s best to be
    spontaneous and freak out at the last minute. You don’t need to write
    anything down because you always remember everything. No pressure, no
    diamonds, right? Right?!

    *Never Offer Help. Never Help Someone Without Being Asked and Having to Complain First*
    likes doing things on their own, so don’t bother offering any help. And
    if by some odd chance someone asks for help, always remember to let out
    a big long sigh before you saying a couple of excuses and ultimately
    giving in. Everything is a struggle and you need to show it in an
    exaggerated fashion.

    *Look at Your Watch or Phone When Talking to People*
    one wants you to completely focus on what they are saying and you look
    really important when you have to answer texts and check the time like
    you have someone you need to be.

  18. Ollie Chapman says:

    Great post Nate, i’ve changed a lot from avoiding many of these things. I would add:

    Don’t be in the moment! Live life thinking about where you want to be and wish it away, instead of enjoying where you are now. Don’t focus on heavy squats while you do them, think about the next exercise instead, don’t be in the moment when kissing or being with your wife of girlfriend, instead think about whats going to be on tv. Being in the moment will allow you to enjoy life more and be better at what you are doing, thats not good if you want to be skinny fat and live a mediocre life, so make sure you don’t do it.

  19. Matt G says:

    Beat around the proverbial bush. Never directly address the issue that stands in the way of resolution and progress. If you find yourself between a colleague and task to delegate or a spouse and household budget item, just bring up one of their glaring character flaws and focus on that. Or complain about one of your many unmet needs. That way you can cover a lot more ground and go nowhere.

  20. Nick says:

    Start your diet over on Monday.
    You already broke your eating habits when you went for supper with your friends. You may as well indulge for the weekend and get strict again on Monday. After all, its about cutting certain food out altogether instead of a healthy balance, right?

  21. Kedric says:

    *Doing things out of obligation*
    Doing things out of obligation just to please someone else or to fit in and not because you are passionate or actually enjoy will end up in half-assed work and even shittier results. It will make us mindless slaves by eliminating all vigor and intensity and it is a straight path to a mediocre,uninspired and purposeless life.

  22. Don M says:

    Worry about what other people think.

    Or don’t. Most of them are wrong (or average anyway)

  23. James Clough says:

    Make sure you tell everyone you meet about all the things you’re planning on doing with your life and all the dreams you want to fulfill and achieve. This will not take any of the energy out of actually accomplishing your goals at all…After all it’s much better to talk about your dreams than making them real- that’s tiring; and besides nothing ever turns out exactly like you expect it to anyway.

  24. Joel says:

    ****Spend more time on message boards than in the gym.****
    Make sure that you’re not logging to keep you honest and accountable. You should exaggerate all your lifts, denigrate others and make sure that you tell everyone how your program, your diet, your approach is better than everything out there. You may be inconsequential in your gym, but no one online knows that. To them, you are A GOD !!! Besides, everyone knows that all the guys getting results in the gym are on steroids, have better genetics than you and don’t have the work and family responsibilities that you have. Your lack of progress is in no way your own fault.

  25. Eric says:

    Don’t pay it forward snd help others, besides you didn’t need any help to get where you are.

  26. “Complain that you don’t have time.”

    No time to workout. No time to exercise. No time to eat right. But there’s plenty of time to check Facebook, tweet, or take pictures of your unhealthy lunch and post them on Instagram — food looks better through grainy lenses anyway, right?

    Screw the possibility of waking up an hour earlier or cancelling something less-important. There’s just no time.

  27. Zac Roggin says:

    – Get by –

    Because lets face it, going above and beyond your expectations is too uncomfortable to do on a regular basis.

  28. Get most of your PWO nutrition from beer.

  29. Ville says:

    Don’t drink water, instead, go for anything with calories in it, like juice or soda.

  30. Mike says:

    “Focus on what other are doing, not yourself” this is bookmarked, good stuff nate.

  31. Billy Taylor says:

    Nate, I’m actually gonna suggest scratching one thing off that list!

    I always “check my Email, texts, and Facebook first thing in the morning” and I think it works very well:

    I’m not particularly hungry when I first wake up, so I just drink a ton of water while I knock out that task. By the time I’m done, I’ve cultivated my appetite and hydrated, so I proceed to cook myself breakfast.

    Also, scratching something–even if it’s trivial–off my to-do list, first thing in the morning, starts a little momentum and sets a good tone for the morning; often, I find that I’m free off the internet for the rest of the day!

    To me, it’s similar to how Tim Ferris recommends “batching” messages; first-thing-in-the-morning is just the time I’ve chosen to batch them.

  32. Raul Felix says:

    “Don’t Hit on That Hot Girl”
    Heaven forbid that you embarrass yourself and everyone laugh at you. No, no. True love is one of those things you just have to wait for and hope you get. Not something that requires hard work and putting yourself out there and letting yourself crash and burn. Just wait, a homely girl will come along and tell you what you want out of life. Whatever you do though, don’t hit on her, she may reject you and rejection is painful.

  33. Ryan says:

    Allow the world to force you into line.
    The world can be a tough place when you’re fighting for your dreams. You may feel you’re falling behind and those will be the times when you want to give up and just go with the flow. But it’s then when you need to work even harder to fulfil your goals. And you WILL do it.

  34. Dinesh Veliath says:

    19. Blame others for your present situation…the weather, the girlfriend, the boss.
    what better alternative than to project your weakness on to others and then quarrel with them, thinking that you are ‘The Guy’ whose moral compass and sense of duty ,sense of commitment is ideal.

  35. Conor says:

    Don’t stand up for yourself. When someone talks down to you in a demeaning way, just take it, put your tail between your legs and walk away. Hey, you’ll think of something cool to say to them in your mind later as you stew about it for the rest of the day and let it consume your thoughts, instead of standing up for yourself and letting that person know you’re confident in yourself and you won’t be pushed around by the office bully.

  36. NavajoReservation Mike says:

    ¥ Forget Accountability ¥
    Because it’s just easier to blame others, social conditioning, and lack of resources for putting your dreams and the life you want on hold. Who needs accountability when it’s everyone elses fault.

  37. Arvin says:

    Stay under the radar. Remain indoors, and dont make yourself visible to anyone. As long as they can’t see you, hear you, or smell you, they can’t hurt you.

  38. Chris Downie says:

    Envy all those that are successful and use their tactics to get to the top….- you are your own person, find what YOUR goals are and live YOUR life. Don’t put yourself down or live vicariously through others. Get yourself to where you are happy and living your freams and life will follow suit. Make yourself the one to envy.

  39. Continue doing the same program/diet/things that have failed to produce results before. If it didn’t produce results previously why would it all the sudden change.

  40. James says:

    Just pick exercises that isolate body parts.. because everyone knows biceps curls are the MOST important exercise

  41. Aziz Memon says:

    Don’t set goals for yourself

    Everyone knows it’s not easy deciding to do something and then actually making a plan and taking action so why bother? If you do have to set a goal though, make sure it’s ridiulous and unobtainaible so you don’t have to feel bad if you don’t reach it.

  42. Patrick P says:

    Don’t listen to or better yet, follow the advice of individuals that live a life you would find enviable if you took your hate goggles off. In fact, you should criticize them, attempt to sabotage their achievements and and think of bullshit reasons for why they’re reaching success to make you feel better for why you aren’t.
    Allow yourself to be fettered by backwards and misinterpreted religious dogma. After all, “the love of money is the root of all evil” and working hard to look and feel great is such a vain and selfish pursuit. You want to ensure that you have no additional energy or resources to be of use to yourself, people you care about and members of the community in need.
    Cynicism rocks Nate!

  43. Martin says:

    Don’t dream big! You know what I mean. You can seriously think that with your shitty genetics and poor workout and nutrition habits you can gain 20 lb of muscle. You can not see yourself as a big muscular athlete so. Let’s just downgrade the dream to 5 lb. yeah maybe that’s reasonable so you don’t have to do any drastic changes. And don’t think you can do something else then your current shitty job, so don’t dream what you would like to do instead it is a waste of time.

  44. DaMarr Easton says:

    Let your But be bigger than the Butt you sit on and you will definately reach your goals.

  45. Robert S. says:

    Hmm, which rule would I add to the list of ways to be small, skinny-fat, and average?
    Yes, look around at what everyone else is doing, and do exactly the same thing.
    Eat fast food 4-5 days a week, get tens of thousands of dollars in debt to buy a fancy car to impress total strangers, change your tastes in music, fashion, and technology to keep up with the latest trend.
    For, if everyone else is doing it, it must be the right way!

  46. Rob says:

    * Keep notes, but don’t review them *

    I recently realized I have half a dozen notebooks full of all sorts of things (ideas, things to research, training records, food logs, to-do lists, goals, etc). I’ve spent all this time over the years making notes and keeping records, but rarely do I ever take the time to review them.

    I picked up a notebook from about 8 years ago, and I realized there are great ideas in there I had forgotten about, goals I am still working towards (but should have accomplished years ago), and all sorts of missed opportunities. It’s kinda sad to see, but made me recognize the power keeping track of things can have, as long as you take time to regularly review what you’ve been writing.

  47. Pope Jon the 1st says:

    under sleep 6 hours or less add and drink lots of caffeine and crapy drinks.

    Age isn’t an excuse – Don’t use the age factor to abominate any type of physical exertion. I’ve seen guys in the gym in wheel chairs. Don’t mentally handicap yourself from setting any goal.

    Don’t binge eat- 3 mcdoubles and a large fry isn’t a healthy pre workout meal.

  48. Blake says:

    Second guess everything. Seriously. I think?

  49. Jin Sanity says:

    Tell yourselt that the only reason people get big is because they have good genetics, or theyre on tons of roids

  50. Matt says:

    Don’t learn. Somebody once told me that a day without learning is a day wasted.

  51. Don’t ever do anything spontaneous. Spontaneous people only get in shit, and truly good opportunities are never time-sensitive.

    -Now, of course, there’s a time for careful deliberation. However, sometimes you just gotta get out there and act NOW. Making the conscious decision – and often painful effort – to DO something instead of standing there shuffling from one foot to the other has made one hell of a difference in my life.

  52. Paul says:

    Don’t take 100% responsibility for your results.

    Find every little reason and excuse for why you haven’t achieved results yet, and blame your lack of success on them. You can use anything other than yourself really: weather, injury, people you live with, friends, genetics,socioeconomic status. Just be at the effect of everything else, since it wasnt your fault, was it?

  53. Sir Steverino says:

    Save money by eating whatever fast-food joint has the best coupons and 2-for-1 deals!

  54. Act like you know everything

  55. Brian G says:

    Hey Nate! A good way to keep average is to be impressed with what the already well built jocks do at the gym rather than in your own efforts.

  56. Robbie says:

    Feeling your fears bearing down over you, calling you out, making you feel mentally weak, laughing at your existence … and NOT doing the shit anyways. Be a man.

  57. Jason says:

    Not watch the ads of stores to buy all the food and supplements you need for a month. Me and my girlfriend are avid couponers and I dont know how some people afford to eat like this program calls for. I would say Im able to reduce my bill by 60% using coupons and watching store sales. And Vitamin world provides great coupons for buy one get one and 40% off almost anything

  58. CoachCary says:

    “Don’t give anything to anyone. Ever. Make them pay for it. After all, time is money. Right? Charity is dead and making the world a better place through charity is for the rich, right? They didn’t get rich by spending time with the homeless. Right? Besides, your spiritual well-being has NOTHING to do with the way your body looks, feels or performs eh?”

  59. Accept you’re just too busy:
    Work at your crappy job until 5pm sharp and hurry home for the next episode of Big Brother. You already use the commercial breaks to intermittently heat up bowls of last night’s KD. Let’s face it, you just don’t have time to fit in online courses, organizing your morning priorities or thinking about how to get a girlfriend. After all, some people are just born destined for greatness, you.. you write comments on blog posts you read but never implement.

  60. Rhett says:

    Don’t bother starting with God. You’re made to be mediocre, you’re incapable of growth: infinite Love has a blind spot, and it’s you. Now your goal is to struggle against His twisted design. Dreams deferred are your portion in life— get eating.

  61. Ethan Glass says:

    *Make sure all your time consuming activities are spread out throughout the week*
    This way you don’t have time do do anything of real value as you are always running around doing mundane tasks.

  62. Ian Korn says:

    Stay indoors. All day. Because why bother with fresh air when you’ve got lots of glowing screens inside to keep you entertained?

  63. Sam Sexton says:

    Keep smoking – or if you don’t already smoke think about taking it up!
    Not only will smoking deteriote your health and cost you a ton of money (whilst offering little to no benefits), it’s also a great addictive platform to weind yourself on to the stronger stuff, like heroin and crack cocaine.

  64. Chris says:

    Sit on your ass, lie on your bed, I’m just not feeling it today. Maybe tomorrow?
    I just don’t have anyone to go to the gym to.

  65. Nate Green says:

    Congrats to Kevin Haggerty and Tim G. Both were randomly picked to win the copy of the book.

    Guys, check your email. And thanks to everyone for commenting.

    I encourage you all to read through the comments; there’s tons of great advice in here.


  66. James says:

    Don’t train your legs, there’s no point – that’s why they invented long shorts! Girls love big arms – it’s actually really beneficial to do curls at the squat rack; no one minds, they’ll be impressed you can do it with the Olympic bar…and if you make your legs big your penis will look small

  67. Tøby Børup says:

    Don’t help others achieve their potential.
    Just take care of “Numero Uno.” Only worry about yourself and your wants. You can’t help someone else before you help yourself. Besides, they probably won’t listen, anyway. It’s weak to be sensitive enough to care about others and to find out their dreams and challenges.

  68. Be destructive with your life by drinking, doing drugs, not working out and partying a lot. Make things much better by dating someone just like you so they can help achieve complete douche bag status.

  69. Jake says:

    Just Start Monday (or the 1st of the Month or The New Year)

    Why start this second when you can pig out and be lazy until a fresh new start on Monday? Or maybe take a two week cool out and start next month? Nah, the real motivation will come with the new year..

  70. Todd says:

    Never pay retail for ice cream and candy bars. Always buy in bulk when they’re on sale.

  71. Vincent says:

    Focus on how things are NOT possible in life like, S2B is not in my budget or how I don’t have the time commitment or how I’m not qualified for that job or business.
    Instead of focusing on how CAN I make S2B work regarding time and money. How CAN I be qualified to start that business to do that job.

  72. Ben says:

    Go to the gym and then eat McDonald’s afterwards. I mean come on, you got protein in the burger, carbs in the bun, and heck even some good old veggies in the lettuce, tomato, and pickle slice.